Erik Olsen

About Erik

Erik Olsen is the head of the Sustainable Development Research Group at the Institute of Marine Research, in Bergen, Norway, where he has been working since 1999. Born in Sweden to Norwegian and Swedish parents who worked extensively in developing countries Erik grew up and was educated in Bergen, Norway. He studied at the University of Bergen where he received a BSc in biology (1995), MSc in fisheries biology (1997) and a PhD in fisheries biology in (2002).

Since completing his PhD Erik has worked as a scientist at the Institute of Marine Research primarily on issues related to ecosystem-based monitoring, assessment and management. He has developed and lead the implementation of ecosystem surveys in the Barents sea jointly with the Russian scientists from PINRO, as well as transferring the concepts to developing nations like Mozambique and Sudan through surveys and development programs.

Erik was deeply involved in the development and groundwork for implementing the Norwegian Integrated Management plans, first for the Barents sea, then the Norwegian sea and finally the North Sea. This groundbreaking work in implementing ecosystem-based marine spatial planning has caught worldwide attention and Erik has been an invited speaker to present the Norwegian planning efforts and its scientific base at both scientific and government meetings (e.g. the United Nations).

From 2009-2013 Erik was elected chair of the ICES Science Committee Steering Group on Human Interactions on the Ecosystem. He has chaired several workshops on Marine Spatial Planning as well as being a reviewer and counselor on these issues.

From 2013 to 2015 Erik was working as a visiting scientist at the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts where he continued development of the science base, tools (like the Atlantis ecosystem model) and methods for ecosystem-based management and marine spatial planning. Upon returning to Norway in 2015 he was appointed the head of the IMR research group for demersal fish, a position he held until 2020 when he transitioned to his current position in marine research in developing countries.

Erik has also contributing to the development of ecosystem-based management and integrated ecosystem assessments of marine ecosystems as co-chair of the ICES Working Group on intetgrated assessment of the North Sea (WGINOSE) , and through research projects like the coastal barometer .

After returning from the US in 2015 Erik headed the research group for Demersal fish at IMR, also leading the IMR strategic initiative on ‘Reduced Uncertainty in Stock Assessment .

Erik has held his current position in the Sustainable Development Research Group since 2020. Contributing to the EAF Nansen programme , developing marine spatial plans in India, and working with the Norwegian Agency For Development Cooperation (Norad) to develop new bilateral projects in the global south are key tasks in Erik’s current role.

Research areas:

Capacity building and providing a science based for marine managment in developing countries

  • The first large-scale mapping of the distribution and diversity fo fish species along the Sudanese Red Sea coast
  • Contributing to the running and dissemination of results from the FAO EAF Nansen programme
  • Ecosystem models

  • Exploring Future oceans under ocean acidification, changes in fishing and marine protection
  • "Future oceans" is now also a research topic at Frontiers in Marine Science
  • Evaluting the performance of ecosystem models: Skill assessment of the Northeast US Atlantis model
  • Exploring the use of qualitative ecosystem models in Integrated Ecosystem Assessments
  • Ecosystem-based management (EBM)

  • Developing and revising Norwegian marine EMBM and MSP
  • The science base of EBM and MSP
  • Role of experts and models in EBM
  • Importance of culture, leadership and integration in marine governance, management and MSP
  • Oil spill assessments and risk

  • Effects of spatial variability in survival on oil spill risk assessments
  • Using the Atlantis ecosystem model to explore effects of Mass mortality events (MMEs, e.g. Oil spills) on the Barents sea and Norwegian Sea ecosystem
  • Social media

    Blog posts

  • 21 Feb 2019 » Sudan’s coral reefs are gems in urgent need of comprehensive management and protection
  • 14 Feb 2016 » Land O'Hoy! Leaving the winter survey.
  • 04 Feb 2016 » My return to the winter research survey in the Barents Sea
  • 26 May 2015 » Why a marine scientist needs encrypted emails
  • 20 Oct 2014 » Updated Global map of MSP developments
  • 09 Oct 2014 » Marine Spatial Planning in vain?
  • 02 Oct 2014 » Global map of MSP developments
  • 07 Aug 2014 » Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Meeting